META MONDAY: VARA’S NOT-SO-SIGNIFICANT JOURNEY

 

 

The more things change, the more they stay the same – or something like that. With the new Eternal campaign launching this week hope bloomed amongst the competitive community for a metagame shakeup spurred by sweet new cards and even sweeter new decks. The keen observer of tournament results has realized that this new metagame has not yet arrived and that the perennial contenders of the Fall of Argenport meta once again proved their dominance.

Let’s take a look at the tournaments of this past week in order to paint a better picture of what’s good, what’s not, and where the metagame could be trending as this week’s tournaments and the next in-game tournament test, on October 19th, fast approach.

OCTOBER 4th– ECL THURSDAY WEEKLY

 

Hot off of the heels of the release of Vara’s Journey, 19 competitors gathered to test their hottest new brews and, likely because of the proximity of the tournament to the availability of the campaign, the density of new decks amongst top finishing players was higher here than in any other event of the weekend.

Krosskross finished first in the event with his “Jund ‘Em” deck that features a much more creature-centric approach to the shadow-fire-justice archetype than the traditional removal heavy predecessors.

2 Dark Return (Set1 #250)

2 Sabotage (Set1 #252)

4 Shakedown (Set1004 #18)

4 Torch (Set1 #8)

3 Annihilate (Set1 #269)

4 Blackhall Warleader (Set4 #201)

4 Ironfist Chancellor (Set4 #108)

2 Vanquish (Set1 #143)

2 Vanquisher’s Blade (Set4 #112)

4 Auric Interrogator (Set1002 #13)

1 Copperhall Bracers (Set4 #115)

2 Slay (Set2 #236)

1 Surgeon’s Saw (Set4 #220)

4 Winchest Merchant (Set4 #126)

4 Statuary Maiden (Set1 #387)

4 Vara, Vengeance-Seeker (Set1004 #19)

2 Zuberi, Outlands Warlord (Set4 #37)

2 Fire Sigil (Set1 #1)

4 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)

4 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)

4 Crest of Chaos (Set3 #268)

2 Crest of Glory (Set4 #243)

4 Crest of Vengeance (Set3 #264)

2 Seat of Chaos (Set0 #60)

2 Seat of Glory (Set0 #56)

2 Seat of Vengeance (Set0 #55)

————–MARKET—————

1 Vanquisher’s Blade (Set4 #112)

1 Copperhall Bracers (Set4 #115)

1 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)

1 Inquisitor Makto (Set2 #242)

1 Argenport Banner (Set2 #231)

Despite winning the tournament, this deck doesn’t appear set up for long-term success: not only does the deck seem to line up poorly against Temporal Control, the clear tier zero of the metagame and which provides a sort of litmus test for playability in the current environment, but also the all-in-voltron style of the deck plays poorly into most fast-speed removal. Instead, the success of this deck seems predicated on the exploitability of the day one metagame and the huge number of “void-matters” decks that saw success in this initial event.

Speaking of “void-matters”, let’s check out the “Night Maul” decks that put three people in the top 8 of the event:

3 Permafrost (Set1 #193)

4 Snowcrust Yeti (Set2 #105)

2 Annihilate (Set1 #269)

4 Dusk Raider (Set4 #153)

3 Haunting Scream (Set1 #374)

4 Territorial Elf (Set4 #210)

4 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)

4 Winter’s Grasp (Set3 #168)

4 Bloodscent Avisaur (Set3 #301)

4 Jennev Merchant (Set4 #169)

4 Lethrai Darkstalker (Set4 #170)

3 Shadowstalker (Set4 #230)

4 Rindra, the Duskblade (Set3 #277)

3 Maul (Set1004 #16)

7 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)

3 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)

4 Amethyst Waystone (Set3 #201)

4 Crest of Cunning (Set3 #267)

3 Feln Banner (Set1 #417)

4 Seat of Cunning (Set0 #62)

————–MARKET—————

1 Permafrost (Set1 #193)

1 Haunting Scream (Set1 #374)

1 Mirror Image (Set1 #217)

1 Maul (Set1004 #16)

1 Feln Banner (Set1 #417)

Despite incorporating maul into the deck, Feln Scream is certainly nothing new to the seasoned Eternal player. Scream has always teetered on the border of competitiveness with hugely positive winrates in slower matchups and significantly worse winrates against aggressive opponents. The addition of maul to the deck, while providing substantial to the deck, has done little to even the disparity between good and bad matchups for the deck and has instead made the already favorable matchups even better. Unsurprisingly, the day one success of this deck was not replicated throughout the rest of the weekend and the deck remains a decent pick for metagames full of top-heavy decks without very many other benefits.

4 Initiate of the Sands (Set1 #74)

2 Seek Power (Set1 #408)

4 Awakened Student (Set1 #331)

4 Icaria, Valkyrie Captain (Set1003 #7)

2 Vanquish (Set1 #143)

4 Auralian Merchant (Set4 #70)

3 Stand Together (Set1 #334)

4 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)

3 Sword of Unity (Set4 #249)

3 Xenan Obelisk (Set1 #103)

4 Amilli, Cloudmarshal (Set3 #136)

4 Crownwatch Quartermaster (Set3 #141)

8 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)

6 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)

4 Combrei Banner (Set1 #424)

4 Crest of Progress (Set4 #247)

4 Seat of Progress (Set0 #58)

4 Xulta Convoy (Set1004 #10)

4 Telut, Queen’s Hand (Set1004 #12)

————–MARKET—————

1 Disjunction (Set3 #63)

1 Xenan Initiation (Set2 #44)

1 Stand Together (Set1 #334)

1 Sword of Unity (Set4 #249)

1 Xenan Obelisk (Set1 #103)

The above listed second-place combrei or Valkyrie tokens deck is an update of a deck popularized during the Shadowfall Tournament and made to incorporate Xulta Convoy and Telut, Queen’s Hand. While the Convoy certainly fits thematically into the token element of the deck and provides a pair of hard-to-deal-with creatures for the opponent, Telut’s inclusion runs corollary to the attack-with-everything style of the tokens archetype. Perhaps, Telut is beneficial for crunching attackers through beefy blockers, but whether or not the full playset of this new heavy hitter is warranted – or if these new cards are enough to elevate this deck to tier one status – remains to be seen.

Rounding out the appearances of new cards in this tournament was SooNoo’s Time-Shadow-Primal deck featuring the two most powerful cards of the campaign: Vara and Azindel.

2 Dark Return (Set1 #250)

4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)

4 Annihilate (Set1 #269)

4 Teacher of Humility (Set4 #67)

4 Vara’s Favor (Set0 #35)

2 Xenan Initiation (Set2 #44)

4 Auralian Merchant (Set4 #70)

4 Ayan, the Abductor (Set2 #204)

3 Banish (Set2 #207)

4 Sandstorm Titan (Set1 #99)

4 Vara, Vengeance-Seeker (Set1004 #19)

2 Cirso’s Cleaver (Set4 #270)

4 Worldbearer Behemoth (Set3 #87)

2 Mystic Ascendant (Set1 #116)

3 Azindel, Revealed (Set1004 #21)

1 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)

4 Shadow Sigil (Set1 #249)

5 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)

1 Crest of Cunning (Set3 #267)

4 Crest of Mystery (Set4 #266)

3 Crest of Wisdom (Set3 #261)

2 Seat of Cunning (Set0 #62)

4 Seat of Mystery (Set0 #61)

1 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)

————–MARKET—————

1 Infinite Hourglass (Set1 #67)

1 Xenan Initiation (Set2 #44)

1 Banish (Set2 #207)

1 Mystic Ascendant (Set1 #116)

1 Azindel, Revealed (Set1004 #21)

Whether this was a pile of powerful cards thrown together in an attempt to overcome a weak day one metagame or a shell of how future Xenan-based midrange decks should look is unclear; however, what is clear is that SooNoo expected a midrange-fueled tournament and built this deck to go over the top of the midrange-mirror: Cirso’ Cleaver provides a two-for-one answer against large creatures, the full suite of Azindels accompanied by Mystic Ascendant provides card advantage, and the cheap removal accompanied with the game’s largest four drops helps to bridge the gap between mid and late game. Of the new decks in the tournament, this appears to be the most solidly constructed and the deck with the most staying power in aggressive to midrange metagames; conversely, the deck can be easily out card advantaged by temporal, making the most prevalent control deck an unfavorable matchup.

OCT 6 – ETS WEEKLY

 

If you were worried this article might go long after spending over 1,000 words describing the new decks of the ECL weekly, don’t worry – the ETS featured not a single new card in its top 8. One might think with a few more days of testing some of the best players and teams would’ve at least come up with a contender featuring cards of the campaign, but none were to be found amongst the players who braved the 81-person swiss to play in the elimination rounds. Instead, the top 8 looked like this:

2 – combrei aggro

2- temporal control

1 – skycrag aggro

1 – justice-primal-shadow control

1 – Rakano Valkyries

1 – Elysian Midrange

With six different archetypes represented, the top 8 certainly didn’t lack diversity. Combrei aggro and temporal control, two of the top contenders from the pre-campaign metagame with well-polished lists already existing, were the only decks with more than one entry in the top 8, and if one was to define a “tier one” after this first week of competition it would certainly start (and likely end) with these two decks:

4 Seek Power (Set1 #408)

3 Desert Marshal (Set1 #332)

1 Disjunction (Set3 #63)

2 Equivocate (Set1003 #21)

2 Find the Way (Set1 #513)

4 Strategize (Set3 #165)

4 Auralian Merchant (Set4 #70)

3 Eilyn’s Choice (Set2 #220)

4 Hailstorm (Set1003 #11)

4 Scorpion Wasp (Set1 #96)

4 Wisdom of the Elders (Set1 #218)

2 Auric Runehammer (Set1 #166)

4 Harsh Rule (Set1 #172)

3 Vital Arcana (Set4 #89)

1 End of the Story (Set4 #138)

4 Channel the Tempest (Set1 #244)

1 Sword of the Sky King (Set1 #186)

2 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)

3 Primal Sigil (Set1 #187)

2 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)

4 Cobalt Waystone (Set3 #151)

4 Crest of Order (Set4 #253)

4 Crest of Progress (Set4 #247)

4 Crest of Wisdom (Set3 #261)

2 Seat of Wisdom (Set0 #63)

————–MARKET—————

1 Disjunction (Set3 #63)

1 Equivocate (Set1003 #21)

1 The Great Parliament (Set1 #338)

1 Vital Arcana (Set4 #89)

1 Temporal Distortion (Set3 #96)

Temporal, the apparent king of control, plainly seeks to survive into the late game while accruing card advantage before eventually taking control with AOE effects and game ending Channel the Tempests. While certainly not the most proactive approach to solving a new metagame, the success of the deck is a testament to the new campaign providing threats that are easily answerable via removal and the efficacy or presence of decks like the aforementioned “Night Maul” that prey on control not present at significant levels.

4 Finest Hour (Set1 #130)

4 Initiate of the Sands (Set1 #74)

4 Awakened Student (Set1 #331)

4 Teacher of Humility (Set4 #67)

4 Vanquish (Set1 #143)

2 Vanquisher’s Blade (Set4 #112)

4 Auric Record Keeper (Set3 #258)

4 Knight-Chancellor Siraf (Set1 #335)

1 Stand Together (Set1 #334)

4 Valkyrie Enforcer (Set1 #151)

4 Genetrix Irel IV (Set4 #307)

3 Sheriff Marley (Set4 #131)

4 Sword of Unity (Set4 #249)

3 Justice Sigil (Set1 #126)

7 Time Sigil (Set1 #63)

4 Combrei Banner (Set1 #424)

4 Crest of Progress (Set4 #247)

4 Crownwatch Standard (Set4 #97)

3 Diplomatic Seal (Set1 #425)

4 Seat of Progress (Set0 #58)

Combrei aggro is the type of solution I like to a new metagame: fast, quick, and lethal. The low-to-the-ground redundant nature of the deck punishes players playing inconsistent decks centered around new cards and the incorporation of cards like Sheriff Marley provides hard-to-answer threats for control. Right now, one certainly can’t go too wrong by queuing up this deck and, depending on metagame, one can certainly change the configuration of creatures in order to better combat the decks they are facing.

With these two decks as the foundation of this week’s metagame, I think the big winner of the week is clearly midrange decks. Whoever can find the sweet spot in the metagame by constructing a deck that can combat both the speed and efficacy of Combrei by playing large, power-efficient creatures and subsequently find a way to generate significant enough card advantage to pose a threat to the control matchups will find themselves well poised to take down the next tournament.

Until next time,

Maybenextime.

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